It’s easy to find out how to become a dive professional, you only need to search on Google and you will come across hundreds of links on information about Divemaster courses and IDCs (instructor development courses) and lots of dive centres that offer these programmes, but what about after you’ve completed the course and you are a certified divemaster or instructor but don’t yet have a job? You are possibly competing with thousands of others for the same position, most of them more experienced than you, and some of them might have insider connections, making it near-impossible to stand out when applying for a dive job. Having a suitable curriculum vitae or résumé is the first step to helping you make it on to the short list of applicants, but especially if you are new to the dive industry there are likely many changes you will have to make to your existing CV before you start applying for jobs.
Where to begin
First of all, you will probably need to start from scratch. Find a suitable template online if you wish, or keep it simple and start with the content. Either way, you’ll need a computer with word processor – CVs need to be easy to read on any device. You can use your previous CV for reference when you are typing up your diving CV, as you’ll still need to include some of this information.
What to include
Your basic information:
Obviously your name is essential, but don’t forget your email and phone number, and often it’s useful to include your nationality and the country you are currently residing in if you are applying for international jobs. Some employers may also ask for your age, so many dive professionals include their DOB on their CV, however this isn’t always necessary.
Although it may be controversial in some industries, dive employers will almost always ask for a current photo. Make sure it’s professional, similar to a passport photo where your face is clear and visible with no sunglasses or dive mask, and a smile will help show your personality and make you look friendly. Aside from perhaps one diving photo, don’t include additional or full-length photos unless you are specifically asked, and make sure that you are displaying professional behaviour and you are dressed appropriately – employers don’t need a photo of you drinking a beer in a bikini.
Your diving experience:
State your professional rating clearly, whether you are a Divemaster or an OWSI, together with the agency/agencies with whom you teach and your membership number. A rough estimate of logged dives or years of diving should be sufficient if you have more than a few hundred, but consider including the locations of your dive experience as it may have relevance to the job you are applying for, and it can also show what type of experience you have. For example, if you are applying for a job in Iceland, having cold-water diving experience will be beneficial. Include your student level specialty certifications unless you are already an instructor for those specialties, as it will already be implied. If you have been actively working as a dive professional, then make sure to include your experience in assisting and/or teaching courses – ideally you will detail these as part of your work experience.
A good CV will always have at least 5-10 years and 4-5 previous jobs, listed and separated chronologically. Even if these are non-diving related, employers will be looking for a history of your previous work to get an idea of your strengths, your skills, and your attitude to commitment. List your previous employment by company name, location, date of employment, and a brief description of your role and responsibilities. Most employers in the dive industry also look for non-diving skills such as customer service, sales, admin, hospitality, engineering skills, and education, amongst others. Play on your strengths as a well-rounded employee, as the dive business is still a business, and any skills that can potentially make your employer more money will help you gain an advantage over other applicants.
As previously mentioned, working as a dive professional is not just about being a good instructor or divemaster; potential employers will want to hire someone who is skilled in many departments. Having any qualifications or experience in boat handling or engine maintenance, gas blending, IT and administration, sales and customer relations, marine biology, dive equipment servicing or accounting skills may be required for many professional diving jobs. You should also think outside the box, and relate your CV to the type of position you are applying for. For example, if you have previously worked with children and the job you are applying for is a water activities manager at Club Med, then including the details of your experience could be significantly advantageous. Other skills that have been known to be appealing to potential employers in the dive industry are: professional medical experience, other water sports skills, resort or hospitality experience, public speaking, business development, social media management, web development, photography and videography skills, and of course any foreign languages you speak. Languages may be of great importance depending on the job you are applying for, as the dive industry is often also part of the tourism industry, so multi-lingual employees are frequently sought-after.
Don’t be too elaborate with your educational history, unless it’s directly relevant to the job you are applying for, but a brief outline of your educational qualifications shows the background of knowledge and interests that you have, and can be helpful to build an impression of your skills. Some jobs may require specific qualifications, so be sure to mention these if necessary. Include the title of your certification(s) and the location and date of completion. If your education is applicable to the job, for instance if you are a marine biologist, include some details such as your thesis or specific interests, and perhaps any experience you have with coral restoration, for example.
Some great CVs don’t include an “about me” section, but some do, and it’s entirely an individual choice whether you include this or not. If you do, it’s a good opportunity to write a brief description of yourself, your qualifications, and your interests. It shouldn’t be too long, and not too personal. The aim is to make a good impression of your achievements and your personality, leaving the intricate details to be asked of you in the interview.
You shouldn’t need to include this on your main CV, however having separate reference letters from your most recent employers will make a good impression in a job application.
There are some important points in a diving CV that may need a mention, as most of them are requirements that employers will ask for. These include whether you have dive insurance and what type of insurance you have, whether you own your own dive equipment and what type of equipment you have, and possibly your marital status if you are applying for a job as a single or a couple. If you are applying as a couple, it will still be optimal to each have your own individual CV. If you have a LinkedIn or professional social media account you might also want to include a web link, especially if it showcases your skills such as underwater photography or IT development.
Bringing It All Together
Spelling and Grammar:
Writing large paragraphs might be more in-depth and detailed, but your CV must also be straightforward and easy to read. Make sure the obvious things are correct – good spelling and grammar go a long way – but don’t be too overwhelming, you aren’t writing a biography; potential employers will only want brief and informative descriptions.
It’s up to you how you would like your CV to be presented, whether it’s in colour, black and white, or elaborately designed, but as a whole it should look professional, clear and informative without being overwhelming. The headings should stand out so that the recipient can find information quickly, and organised so that the basic information is at the top or side of the page, and less important information is at the bottom. Using a template is absolutely fine, but make sure you personalise it so that it doesn’t include any empty or irrelevant sections.
Always get someone else to proof-read your finished CV before you send it out. Sometimes spellcheck won’t pick up on mistakes or grammatical errors, and having someone else’s feedback on the overall impression of your CV can be very helpful, especially if they also work in the dive industry.
What Not To Write
Political views and personal opinions:
Your CV should be about you, but a potential employer will not want you to express any strong or political opinions to customers, therefore you shouldn’t include this on your CV. Personal opinions, if you find absolutely necessary to express, should be given only when asked and only in an interview.
Negative opinions on previous employers:
No matter the reason, do not bad-talk your previous employers on a job application or CV. You really shouldn’t be doing this in your interview or at all to your potential or current employer, and even if you are well within your right, it makes a very bad impression of your personality and integrity, or apparent lack thereof. You don’t want potential employers to think that you will badmouth them if given the opportunity.
Completely irrelevant information:
As suggested before, keep your job application professional. Only include a short list of interests, but mostly an employer will not be interested in your personal life history – if they want to know then they will ask. If your diving work history is brief, then you should include your previous non-diving work experience, but understand that it might not be necessary to write in detail about the last twenty customer service jobs you have had.
No one likes a bragger – if you are a high achiever the facts on your CV should speak for themselves, so there is no need to blow your own horn too loudly. Regardless of your experience, you should always be willing to learn something new and be willing to accept constructive criticism, especially from your employer.
Whatever you do, be honest and don’t exaggerate – you will eventually get caught, and there is no point in claiming that you have skills you don’t actually have. Instead, focus on what you can do, and be vocal about being open to learning new skills. If you do end up getting a job that you aren’t qualified for you may be stuck in a very difficult position, as will the rest of your colleagues. The best strategy is to be honest about your experience – it will be appreciated more than you might think.
Keep it short and sweet:
Some detail is necessary, but don’t make it too laborious of a read. Most employers will read one to two pages, and likely they will skim the document initially to get an overall impression. Having a very long CV can also give the idea that you are unorganised or that you haven’t bothered to rewrite your CV in between jobs.
The CV/résumé is only one part of the application process. Don’t forget to research the company you’re applying to – visit the website, read their reviews – you will find out you if actually want to work there and you may be asked what you already know about the company. Write a specific (but short) cover letter, and keep your references on hand. Prepare for your interview, and don’t be afraid to ask questions – a good employer will expect you to ask about the role and what responsibilities you will have if you are hired. Your CV may evolve over time, make sure you keep it updated, and try to imagine you are the person hiring when you read it – does it stand out and make a good impression? Follow this guide and let me know how it goes!